fiddle leaf photography
Jul 27, 2021
This fall marks my 8 year business-versary (totally a word, right?).
10 years ago I picked up a DSLR for the very first time.
8 years ago I first snapped the shutter for someone other than my family.
Hundreds of families and sessions later, here I am. In a place I am so darn proud of. Checking things off lists and meeting long held goals.
It’s been a wild ride that has been anything but easy and I’ve learned more than a few things along the way.
I could probably list 100 things I’d do differently, but nobody has time for that. 😂
Here are 3 things I’d change if I had a do-over.
Here’s the thing with the internet – everyone has a damn opinion. EVERYONE. One person will tell you to post on social media 3 times a day and another person will tell you to post quality over quantity and to not worry about frequency. Who’s right? Who knows. What I do know is that listening to the whole internet will make you spin in circles. There are a hundred different things that might work, but what you need to do is find what is going to work for YOU.
If I could go back and do it all over I’d spend WAY less money on memberships and courses and spend way MORE money on individualized coaching. Having a person who actually takes your wishes and life into consideration was really a game-changer for me. Find yourself a coach who can help you with your craft and a coach who can help you with your biz (maybe they’re the same person) and invest in it!
(Shameless plug: I have my own amazing coaches and I also provide mentoring to up-and-coming photographers. It took me 8 years to get here – my goal is to have you there in way less time.)
We can all pull numbers out of the sky and charge that. But, what do your numbers tell you? How much are you actually walking away with? Is it worth it?
Website costs, gallery hosting, gear (including memory cards), backups, professional memberships, insurance (I hope you have it!), licensing (I also hope you have it!), office expenses, gas, childcare. You get it. It all adds up and none of it is free.
Figure that allllllll out and then add in the factors of your time, skill level, education, client experience and gear.
Run your numbers before you start charging money. You can thank me later when you don’t have to quadruple your rates later on and have to start with a brand new client base. (Says the girl who had to do this!)
And before you say to me, “But, Kelly! I’m new…..I can’t charge that.” Take a moment and decide if you’re willing to lose money to work for other people. I’ve known too many photographers who do their accounting at the end of the year and don’t even break even.
For the first 4 years of my business I only worked during my ‘free’ time. When my husband wasn’t working, I’d work. When he was working I was the primary parent. I’d decided to start this career so I could have the flexibility to stay home with my kids.
Here’s the hard truth though….
In order to build a business, you need more than cracks of time. Working all night long when you’re exhausted and trying to edit a session during an episode of Paw Patrol isn’t sustainable.
It took me being in a therapist’s office and her looking me square in the eye saying, “And what’s wrong with hiring some help? Why do you feel like a failure for needing help?” for me to realize that I was losing myself in those cracks of time.
Nope, this didn’t come easy for me. To admit that I needed to start paying for childcare and that my career was legitimate enough to sustain having someone else watch my kids was a p-r-o-c-e-s-s. I started slow. One day of daycare a week. One summer camp at a time. One afternoon of babysitting.
It was when I started making this change in my business that I saw major growth. I had a schedule, a plan, and uninterrupted time, but more importantly, my mindset shifted into business mode instead of constantly being in the parenting-while-running-a-business-mode.
8 years in I have my coaches by my side, the numbers run and I write this as my kids are in full day summer camp so that I can have 5 full days to work. Is it perfect? Nope. It never will be. That’s the fun of entrepreneurship. This year has been one of big growth and with that came some growing pains. I admitted I needed even more help (welcome to the team, Katie – more on that to come!) and I’m making changes so that Fiddle Leaf Photography can continue to have amazing service even if I’m not involved in every single interaction.
Here’s to another 8 years and so many more lessons to come!
If you’re currently running a photography business, I’d love to hear from you. Hit reply and tell me your number ONE pain point right now. I’ll reply with some help for you.
p.s. 3 of these sessions are left. Seriously, come hang out with me at the flower farm!
p.p.s. I’m currently booking in-home family and newborn sessions into January 2022 onward. If you want a winter 2022 session now is the time to hit reply to let me know.
p.p.p.s. This book, this one and this one have been my favourites so far this year and are all great if you’re looking for a summer read.
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Lifestyle family & newborn photographer based in Edmonton, Alberta
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